Moffett Field CA (SPX) Dec 22, 2009
NASA today transferred management of all operations for the Kepler Mission from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif., to NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
JPL managed the mission through development, launch and the start of science operations. The spacecraft was launched March 6, 2009 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. James Fanson, the JPL project manager, is succeeded by the new project manager, Roger Hunter of NASA Ames. William Borucki of NASA Ames is the mission's science principal investigator and David Koch of NASA Ames is the deputy science principal investigator.
"The transition of the mission leadership from JPL to Ames is the culmination of a transition plan agreed to some time ago by the two centers," Hunter said. "Ames had a large role in the development of the mission, and plays an even larger role in its operation. The transfer of the project management role is the final milestone of this mission transition."
Kepler is NASA's tenth Discovery mission. Ames is responsible for the ground system development, mission operations and science data analysis. JPL managed the Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo., was responsible for developing the Kepler flight system, and along with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado, will support mission operations.
Oversight of the Kepler program has been transferred from the Discovery Program at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala., to the Exoplanet Exploration Program at JPL.
Kepler will spend the next three-and-a-half years searching for planets as small as Earth, including those that orbit stars in a warm habitable zone where liquid water could exist on the surface of the planet. It does this by looking for periodic dips in the brightness of stars, which occur when orbiting planets transit, or cross in front of, the stars as viewed from our solar system.
Since its launch in 2009, the Kepler mission has continuously and simultaneously observed more than 150,000 stars, and its photometer has already detected hundreds of transit-like signatures that are being analyzed. The mission is scheduled to continue conducting science operations until at least November 2012.
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Palo Alto CA (SPX) Dec 11, 2009
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